Moscow court cancels compensation demands in Navalny embezzlement case

Moscow court cancels compensation demands in Navalny embezzlement case
Moscow City Court has ruled to cancel the multimillion-ruble compensation payment that Aleksey Navalny and two other suspects had been ordered to pay in an alleged embezzlement case from 2013 that was sent for retrial earlier this week.

The appeal collegium has canceled the ruling of the first instance court and ruled to reject the claimant’s demands for compensation,” Interfax quoted the press service of the Moscow City Court as saying.

The first ruling, by the Nikulino District Court in Moscow in October 2015, ordered that Navalny and two other men must compensate 16 million rubles (about US$260,000 at current rate) in damages inflicted on state-run timber company Kirovles through a re-selling scheme that took place in 2009, and that a court in Kirov recognized as embezzlement in July 2013.

Navalny, a former aide to the Kirov Region governor, was ordered to pay the compensation, along with the former head of Kirovles, Vyacheslav Opalev, and businessman Pyotr Ofitserov.

However, on November 16 this year the Russian Supreme Court ordered the annulment of a five-year suspended sentence given to Navalny and a four-year sentence given to Ofitserov, and ruled that the Kirovles case must be sent for a retrial.

The decision was based on an earlier statement from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), as well as new details in the case. The case is now being reconsidered by different judges at the Leninsky District Court in Kirov.

If the retrial ends in an acquittal, this would remove the legal barrier that forbids people with active criminal sentences to run for the Russian presidency. Earlier this week, Navalny announced that he had plans to take part in 2018 elections as a candidate.

In early September 2013, Navalny participated in the Moscow mayoral elections and came second with about 27 percent of votes, while incumbent Sergey Sobyanin won with about 51 percent.

In 2014, Navalny received a suspended three-and-a-half-year sentence (due to expire in 2017) in another criminal case, where the court found him guilty of embezzling over $500,000 from the international cosmetics company Yves Rocher. Navalny’s brother Oleg was sentenced to three and a half years in prison within the same case.